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Working with Gods

Many people in the pagan realm have stated that they have a problem with the phrase “working with gods”. Most of them seem to feel that this is demoting the god to that of a hammer or screwdriver- it is something you pick up to do a job with, and once you’re done, you put the tool back in the tool box. That it turns the gods into tools for us to ‘use’ and simply put away again.

I happen to like the term ‘working with gods’, and I wanted to go into why that is. That way, when you see me use the phrase, you understand what I mean by it.

When I say that I work with Set or Asar, the image that comes to mind is a strong handshake. We are joining together to do work, to create something bigger and better. We are coworkers and peers. Teachers and students- setting out to ‘get some work done’ – together – and to accomplish something. There is no imagery of tools, hammers, nails, etc. It’s just me and them coming together cooperatively to get stuff done.

I know the second most common phrase out there would be worship. I “worship X god”. I don’t particularly care for this phrase, myself. Because worship, in Devo-land, means that you’re a doormat, you are star struck and you follow X entity in whatever it is they say or request. “I worship the ground that she walks on” kind of thing. And while I know that that might not necessarily be the case for all of you, it is the imagery that pops up for me. And because of that, I tend to steer clear of the term ‘worship’. Set is no-nonsense, for sure. But I do have the ability to tell him no (or worse). And for me, worship implies that I couldn’t or wouldn’t ever disagree with what he has in mind. And that just isn’t the case.

I also believe that the phrase ‘working with’ implies that we are on somewhat equal terms (as opposed to the term ‘worship’). Or that there is respect on both sides. We are working in harmony, creating something more, together.

So when you see me use the phrase ‘working with gods’, don’t think of tools, think instead of the picture below: people and deities connected together, and working together to make the world better.

What types of terms do you use to describe your relationship with your god/s? Are there certain terms that you are not comfortable with using?

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: The Priests of Ancient Egypt


I managed to get a copy of The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, and I finally got around to reading it. This book is considered a staple for Kemetics in many circles, and it doesn’t disappoint. This book goes far more in-depth into the priesthood of AE than almost any other book that I have read so far.

The book starts off discussing the generalized idea about what priests are and do. Sauneron shows us that while many people have an ideal about what priests were like (morally speaking) there were examples of priests who were less than savoury in their dealings. I would guess he does this to break any romanticism we have with the notion of being a priest. Priests were people just like us- and they were fallible as we are now.

Sauneron also discusses the basics of temple ritual, what a priest’s day might entail while in the temple. Most of this was not entirely new to me, but it was still interesting to read another perspective on it. After reading this, it really does validate a lot of what I’ve read in Reidy’s book. One confirms, in many ways, the other. He also goes into detail about different areas priests would have studied. He made a point to mention that each priest within the temple would have had a specialty. There was rarely a priest who knew EVERYTHING. Usually, you had someone who read stuff. Someone who oversaw just the offerings. Someone who spent their day making the linen and clothes for the icon. Someone who was there to deem if an animal was pure enough to be sacrificed to the god. Someone who knew the music that the god liked… etc. I think this is an important concept for modern Kemetics to consider, since it seems like we all have to know everything about everything in order to get somewhere. He also gave a generalized history of AE and how the priesthood could have played a role in it. It was interesting to see his ideas about how the Ramessides were trying to placate the priests of Amun while trying to promote their own god- Set. I’ve never seen anyone really discuss whether the 19th dynasty had problems with the temple of Amun or not. So the concept was interesting to consider.

I liked learning little facts that I’ve seen asked around the forums, yet never knew answers to. For example, Sauneron does mention that there was likely some type of initiation ritual for new priests. He says not a lot of information is known, but that something happened to transition them from outside to inside. In the case of higher priests appointed by the King, they would receive a ring and ceremonial staff, which I thought was interesting to know.

I also found out that there was mandatory ‘rules’ for animals that were butchered for the temple. Usually, related to markings (or lack thereof) – the beast had to be deemed pure in order for it to be served to the gods. I wonder how the Netjer feel about the types of meat we are serving them now 😛

Apparently each nome of Egypt kept some sort of master list relating to what grew there, the mythologies of the area, common offerings, and a whole slew of other things. I would love to get my hand of a whole lot of these. Imagine the things we could learn.

I also found out that in the typical inner sanctuary of the temple, there would be a kar shrine, the boat, and usually a table- and that offerings were left outside of the kar shrine, on the table. I had thought that perhaps the offerings went in the shrine itself, so it’s good to have this cleared up. I guess for most temples, the shrine was sealed up after the morning ritual, and wasn’t opened the rest of the day. Which I was unaware of as well. I also found out that for some temples, there were lesser and greater morning rituals. Every 5 days or so, there would be a more involved morning rite that involved the changing of the clothes for the god, etc. But that on the lesser days, just the four strips of linen were swapped out.

He also confirmed that Open statues had their joo-joo renewed once per year. I would guess through another Opening of the Mouth rite.

Overall, the book had some interesting stuff to it. I learned a few new things and it reinforced a lot of what I have already read. Here are a few excerpts from the book I placed in my FB feed:

A priest is any man who, through bodily purification, puts himself in the state of physical purity necessary to approach the holy place, or to touch any objects or dishes of food consecrated to the god.

Maat is the aspect of the world that the gods have chosen, it is the universal order as they established it from its basic constituent elements, such as the course of the starts and the succession of days, down to the humblest of its manifestations” the harmony of the living, their religious piety; it is the cosmic balance, and the regular recurrence of the seasonal phenomena; it is also the respect for the earthly order set up by the gods – truth, and justice.

The Egyptians distinguished in the sky, beyond the sun and the moon, the stars which never rest- our planets: Mercury, Venus (the star of the evening and the morning), Mars (the red Horus), Jupiter (the glittering star), and Saturn (Horus the bull).

I think the biggest complaint I have about this book is that he cites late sources a lot. It seems like the majority of his information comes from Greek writers. While I know that it’s possible that this was his only major resource to pull from, I would certainly enjoy to hear more about priests from the Egyptians themselves- not outsiders who came to Egypt at the very end of her life.

All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the priesthood of Egypt, and whoever might be interested in creating a priestly role for themselves (or taking on such a role) in the modern era. I think by looking back at how the ancients did it, it can create a lot of ideas about how we can approach the concept today, and translate it into something that works in this time and place. I also feel this book does a good job at clearing up some of the misconceptions one might have about what bring a priest in AE was about.

See this book review over on Pagan Book Review!

 
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Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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The Page Turns

This past weekend marked my last therapy visit. I had thought long and hard over the past two weeks about what I would do in regards to therapy, and currently I feel that I need to focus on my physical problems. And once my physical issues are sorted out, I can begin to work on my innards again. I explained my stance to my therapist, and she seemed to understand and support my decision. While I’m sure on some levels she wishes I would have tried the route she suggested, I feel that this is the path I must take. To go any other way besides this would not be true to myself. And above all, I try to stay true to me.

So to fill some of you in, I believe I have narrowed down (finally!) what is wrong with me. In the past month since I have moved, I have begun to eat better and better. And by better, I mean I’m not eating McDonalds every night. As I cleaned up my diet, I began to see more patterns in my body’s reaction to food. I noticed that vegetables hurt my stomach horribly. I learned that noodles still didn’t sit well. Things like that. And so I turned to the Internet again, as I always do, to see if I could find something that linked all of these things. And ironically, there is something that is a common theme:

Fructose.

There is something called Fructose Malabsorption. Basically, it means that your body doesn’t absorb the fructose like it should. And so the fructose travels down into the lower parts of your digestive tract where all of your little bacteria can munch on it. These bacteria eat the fructose, and begin to create waste- which is usually in the form of a gas. This gas creates bloating, gas, and pain (among other things- people’s symptoms run the gamut). The more fructose you feed these guys, the more they procreate, and next thing you know, your gut is overrun with them. If not kept in check, the condition can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies, apparently.

The good news for this is, after only a few weeks without fructose, I feel a TON better. The bad news is, everything has fructose in it. Most vegetables, most fruits. Wheat. Brown rice. Agave. Honey. Garlic. All sorts of stuff. So finding things to eat has been a challenge. And the next step for me will be to see a dietician/nutritionist to ensure that I am able to get enough nutrients. And from there, I’m not sure what I will do. But hopefully there will be an upward trend for my health.

In regards to therapy, I am very glad that I went. I learned a lot about myself in the past 6 months, and I feel like my horizons have been broadened. I no longer approach things in the same way that I did before, and I think overall it’s been a good shift for me. For anyone considering hypnosis or therapy, I’d tell them to go for it. Just to make sure you have a therapist that you meld with, and that you can trust them. Because if you lack trust, your sessions won’t be nearly as fulfilling. Hypnosis has done me wonders with focus and meditation. I can now walk through the beginnings of the hypnosis my therapist would walk me through every session, and enter into the same state where I can begin to work on things. It’s really interesting.

I’m really excited to see how this will change things for me. The possibility of being able to function normally, and not be in pain on a regular basis is an awesome thought for me. And while I’m sad to see therapy go (for the time being) I do look forward to seeing where this next branch will take me.

 

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Equal.

I have heard Barrish-sensei say many times that we are “All equal under the sun”. To me, this is such a beautiful concept. Equality. Something that we all strive for. Something that everyone wants to feel – to be an equal among their peers. Yet despite this, there are many times that I have seen many people treat other beings on this planet as lesser, due to a variety of reasons.

The concept of being un-equal is mind boggling to me. It is at the core of all three of my practices that everything is equal. All things are divine, and everything you see is on an equal playing field.

In FlameKeeping, literally everything is Divine. I am of the Divine, you are of the Divine. Anything you eat is Divine. Your carpeting is Divine. Even your feces is Divine. We are all Divine, and we all strive to uphold that divinity. To work to make everything better. And to live up to the fact that we are of the Divine.

In Kemeticism, we are also Divine. Everyone and everything came forth from the Nun. We all came from the Creator god (pick your myth). His tears. His fluids. His spit. His clay. We all came from the same place, we all share a Ka (at the core). We are all Divine. And in that right, we are all equal. You, me, the carpet.

And in Shintoism, we are told that we’re all equal under the sun. Because we all receive Divine ki from the sun, it’s solar energy. Due to the pantheistic nature of Shintoism, Kami can exist in anything in everything. You. Me. The carpet.

Yet despite the emphasis on equality, there are so many who do not seem to embrace it. There are those who think themselves higher than their peers. Those who think that they are better than what they eat, the people they interact with, and the general world around them. And in many of these situations, their reasons for feeling as such are very superficial. They have a special ‘title’ or membership to a group. They have nicer cars and clothes. They hold a job, or a ‘better’ job. It seems that everyone is out to make themselves feel better, by making everyone around them feel lesser somehow.

Every time I see this, I cry a little inside. There is so much more to life than being above or below someone (or something). There are so many much more important and larger problems out there, yet we allow ourselves to get trapped in this game of greater than and less than. Unlike the carpet, a tree, or a dog- we people have a greater opportunity and ability to enact change in this world. We are able to create beauty and change in this world. To leave it a better place than we came into it. As it is said in FlameKeeping, we are the eyes and hands of the Divine. It is our job to make sure that we don’t fall into the trap of hating on others. It’s our responsibility to keep respect in our mind at all times, because everything is Divine, and we must respect that.

Can you imagine how different the world would be if we all had honest respect for one another? If we all lived in equality with the world and nature around us. If we as a species suddenly got over our “we’re here to dominate everything” complex? I think it would be interesting to see how the world could change. And while much of the world might not practice equality on the by and large, that isn’t going to stop me from trying to keep it in my mind on a daily basis. The idea that something out there is lower or higher than me just doesn’t jive in my mind.

How much equality do you keep in your day to day life? Is it something that your religious/spiritual practice places and emphasis on? Should it?

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Flame Keeping, Kemeticism, Rambles, Shintoism

 

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FK Journal: Faith

This week’s FK discussion is about Faith, specifically Faith in humanity. It can be read here. 

This post was a relatively short one. There are a few things that I relate to that are within the post.

It is easy, really, to have faith in a separate God that things are going to work out for the best. It requires faith, but not in the people you live with every day. FlameKeeping requires faith in humanity.

I see this a lot in people I meet or read. Of varying religious affiliation. People who are always waiting for the Gods or something other than themselves to magic them out of a bad situation. I think this is part of why I fell out of using magic and I don’t really pray. I don’t feel like it’s up to the gods to make my life better- it’s up to me. And so, instead of sitting in shrine begging X or Y god to change something, or spending my time finding the perfect stones, herbs and candles to make Z happen for me, I just get off my ass and go do it myself. I use the mundane to get things done. I guess to me, that requires a faith in humanity by having faith in myself to get the job done.

This doesn’t mean to close your eyes and jump, assuming someone will catch you. FlameKeeping is very much about pragmatism: if it’s not going to work, it’s a bad idea. But it does mean that we need to both have a basic faith in humanity’s decentness (for we are the Divine) and to be people that one can have that faith in, as well. We are of the Divine, and we must take that seriously. Be someone others can take faith in, and find others to take faith in.

This was interesting to me as well. I like that it’s not blind faith. That there is some common sense to it. But even more than that, I like that we are each held accountable for faith in ourselves. You can swap that with self esteem and value, in my opinion. And I think it’s something each of us could use a little more of. It’s the Set in life- the things that make you stronger, make you capable and give you faith in your abilities. Anything that has to do with Set, I like XD

Questions:

Do you have faith in other people? What does that mean to you?

My faith in people comes and goes. I know that deep down we are capable of so much more and when I see how we are squandering our potential, it makes me sad and I lose faith. But then I catch a glimpse of our possibility, of someone doing something right and I’m back for another round. I suppose this means that I must keep trying to keep faith, and to help others have faith in humanity as well. Because if we don’t fix it, who will?

Are you someone other people can have faith in? Why or why not?

I believe so. I am reliable. I am faithful. I am a rock. I think steadiness and predictability can lead to faith- you can have faith that I will follow through, for example. I do what I say I’m going to do. Because of these traits, I lean towards yes.

What does believing in humanity mean to you? Is it meaningful? Scary? Empowering?

I’m not really sure. I mean, I’m going to do what I’m going to do (save the world) regardless of what my fellow human beings are doing. However, when I look at the world beyond, sometimes believing in humanity is empowering (look as us all kicking ass!) or it’s depressing (look at you all sucking ass!). I know it’s something that I need to keep in mind, though it can be hard some days.

 

 
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Posted by on October 22, 2011 in FK Journal, Flame Keeping

 

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